Friday, February 24, 2012

On a legislated contract and parents who care - one teacher's perspective

A Victoria teacher responded to a CBC interview with Sheila Orr about the Liberal government's plan to legislate an imposed contract on teachers:

I was so discouraged to hear Sheila Orr's cavalier, "I don't care" today when asked about the teachers being legislated back to work. She talked about hearing parents talking on the playground, feeling exactly the same as her - they don't care, it's time for teachers to go back and give children what they aren't getting. Well, I am a teacher, and I talk to parents all the time. The parents I work with DO care. They care when their children aren't getting adequate instruction in class because the teacher is spending too much time managing constantly disruptive behaviours. They care when a child with autism is only given funding for a half day of assistance, leaving schools struggling to know how to cope. They care when their child is released from learning assistance after six weeks, just starting to make progress, because the funding isn't there to continue. They care when their child waits almost a year for a referral to a school occupational therapist. They certainly do care. It's not hard to learn more about the real issues behind the teacher's strike. Ms Orr's position that teachers need to go back and give the children what they aren't getting, is shockingly naive and uninformed considering she is given a weekly platform to discuss political issues. Instead of adding to an educated debate, she adds fuel to the fire of ignorance.


  1. The problem with a contract imposed by the government is that teachers will then prioritize tasks that they perform. The lowest priority will be extra-curricular activities. Teachers usually volunteer to lead activities such as coaching different sports and supervising different clubs in the school. Since teachers cannot be voluntold to participate in these activities, the activities may be cancelled for the duration of an imposed contract.

  2. I missed this CBC interview but as a former special education and Reading Recovery teacher and presently a school trustee, I care. Net zero is an ideological union-busting ploy. Restoring taxation levels for corporations would go a long way to make "net zero" even more unnecessary than it is, instead of selling assets and blaming working people for a desire to have at least a cost of living increase in wages.

  3. Thank you to the writer who wrote in about Sheila Orr's comments. I too, listened to the CBC with my coffee Friday morning, before heading to work, and yes.... I've been working too. I was shocked - even thinking about calling Talk Back line. I may need to write her a letter as I can't get it off of my mind. It would be helpful if she could be specific about ".. what children aren't getting...". I'm a grade 6 teacher and this week my kids got: interactive lessons on finding perimeter and area, experiences with taking their descriptive paragraphs and turning them into digital stories, complete with photos, special effects, narration and music, and also an introduction to the issue of child labour in the chocolate trade, with reference to social justice and working conditions. And that's just with me.... I know they learned lots from their Science, Band and Art teachers, too . So, again, what is it that she thinks children aren't getting?!??
    Tannis Hendra

  4. Hi Tannis,

    I wrote that letter - I know - Sheila Orr was infuriating! I encourage you to write something down and call Talk Back and read it. I did that over a field trip issue before Christmas, and they played it. I hope they will read my letter too - but you might have a better chance if you've never called before.
    Carolyn Howe

  5. "Hearing parents on the playground" does not give them the proper forum to articulate what the parents may be thinking. I would define the parents' perspective quite differently.

    "I don't care" likely means. "I don't think the teachers should get an increase and get back to work". I strongly believe all of the things that you listed in the post. Giving children the help they need is of up most importance. In a society that we live in today, with our FIRST WORLD resources, we should be able to do this easily.

    However, asking for an increase and then making noises about class composition, etc comes off as "we want more money". If you REALLY care about the student. Then take it and deal with the other issues. NOT the wage issue.

    As a parent, it keeps coming across as "WE WANT MORE MONEY". That is the problem. If it ISN'T about the wages then why does the "net zero" issue keep being pushed.

    I'll agree, I am a parents, and I care.

  6. Teachers have been clear from the beginning that we have three main goals: fair/reasonable salary/benefit improvement, restore class size/class composition provisions, bargain more items at the local level. We don't get automatic cost of living increases, so a "zero" translates into a pay cut of whatever the inflation rate is...right now in the 2-3% range.

    Teachers are working. In fact, many teachers report more time spent with children and working on lessons, instead of going to a meaningless staff meeting or doing the paperwork that has been downloaded to us. This benefits kids.

    Teachers DID give up pay for class size. In 1998 we took two "zero" years to pay for class size improvements in K-3. What happened? The government stripped those away in 2002. Did we get the pay back? No. Why should teachers give up salary to pay for class size when we have a government that rips up contracts on a whim?

    Just as in 2005, this job action is about both - fair increase and a return of class size/composition.

    1. I think teachers have a very difficult and demanding job, however if other people in other public sector jobs are only seeing zeros how could teachers feel that they are above everyone else? We are also struggling to keep up to cost of inflation so how could we stomach having to pay more taxes for one sector?

  7. Fair comment - net zero should be lifted for all public sector workers. They are entitled to bargain increases and keep up and maintain a good standard of living. And I don't believe ordinary people should pay more taxes. I do believe that corporations are not paying their fair share, and that the rich are not paying their fair share.

    Also, by the same argument, why only public sector workers? Municipal workers were not affected. School Superintendents were not affected. The one in my district (Victoria) got a ten percent raise last year and now makes $175,000.

    If zero were truly being applied to everyone and if the "one percent" were paying their fair share, and if the economy was actually in a nose dive (BC will grow 2.5% this year), then "net zero" would be justified. But that is not the situation we are in.

  8. I do NOT take our teachers for granted. Trust me. I know first hand how hard teachers work. However, When the union leaders ask for a 15-19% wage increase and it is always the first issue raised, people raise their eyebrows.

    Everyone is throwing around 2-3% around. Then why don't teachers let their union leaders know that. It really is about optics on the issue of salaray.

    I COMPLETELY agree that class composition needs to be on the table. I COMPLETELY agree that many of the "grey area" kids are being left in the cracks. These are the issues that really need to be highlighted. The wage numbers should be closer to what teachers have been talking about on the web or amongst each other.